Today, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf issued a proclamation declaring Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency, seemingly triggering the firearm prohibitions found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6107 during declared emergencies.
Specifically, Section 6107 provides:
(a) General rule.–No person shall carry a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency proclaimed by a State or municipal governmental executive unless that person is:
(1) Actively engaged in a defense of that person’s life or property from peril or threat.
(2) Licensed to carry firearms under section 6109 (relating to licenses) or is exempt from licensing under section 6106(b) (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license).
(b) Seizure, taking and confiscation.–Except as otherwise provided under subsection (a) and notwithstanding the provisions of 35 Pa.C.S. Ch. 73 (relating to Commonwealth services) or any other provision of law to the contrary, no firearm, accessory or ammunition may be seized, taken or confiscated during an emergency unless the seizure, taking or confiscation would be authorized absent the emergency.
(c) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
“Accessory.” Any scope, sight, bipod, sling, light, magazine, clip or other related item that is attached to or necessary for the operation of a firearm.
“Firearm.” The term includes any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any weapon.
(It must be noted that the definition of a firearm is specific to this section of the code and not the general definition of a firearm found in Section 6102. The definition of a firearm in this section is far more broad than the definition in Section 6102)
While neither Section 6102 nor Section 6107 define what constitutes an “emergency proclaimed by a State…governmental executive,” it is clear that Governor Wolf is the state governmental executive. Moreover, the language utilized in the proclamation seems to trigger the prohibition since it is a proclamation of an emergency, pursuant to 35 Pa.C.S. § 7301.
Specifically, the Proclamation provides:
So what does this mean?
This means that an individual, who could generally carry a firearm in public without a license to carry firearms (LTCF) (with the exception of in the City of Philadelphia as a city of the first class), cannot do so during a state of emergency. However, as the above exceptions reflect, this does not include when the individual is using the firearm for self-defense or if the individual has a license to carry firearms. This is another reason why I always recommend that any individual, regardless of whether he/she desires to conceal carry a firearm, procure an LTCF.
What about confiscation of firearms?
Since Katrina and the confiscation of firearms that occurred during the state of emergency there, individuals are generally concerned about the Government using a state of emergency to confiscate firearms. That is why Section 6107 specifically prevents any form of confiscation of firearms, accessory or ammunition from occurring solely as a result of a state of emergency.
What should you do?
As it is anticipated that this proclamation of a state of emergency will not be terminated for an extended period of time, I would highly recommend that anyone eligible obtain his/her LTCF.
EDIT 1/11/18: For those interested in the impact of this Proclamation on the Great American Outdoors Show and hunting on state game land, please see this follow up article – Are the Great American Outdoors Show (GAOS) and State Game Land Hunting in Jeopardy as a Result of Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Emergency?
EDIT 1/12/18: As a result of the Office of Governor issuing a statement that Senator Wagner and I are “flat-out wrong,” I have published a third article on this topic and am requesting that Governor Wolf either apologize to Senator Wagner and myself or debate me on the issues – Governor Wolf’s “Interpretive Jiggery-Pokery” on his Proclamation’s Impact on Firearm Rights in Pennsylvania
If you or someone you know has had their right to keep and bear arms infringed as a result of this state of emergency, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.
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